New York Times demotes Washington editor over Bad Tweets

They’ve annoyed the extremely online left not once but twice in the past week. First was the Bad Headline incident, then came deputy D.C. editor Jonathan Weisman mouthing off on Twitter about three progressive politicians, all of whom happened to be women and minorities.

A small sacrifice had to be made to the gods of wokeness, and now it has been.

Weisman has lost his supervisory duties over the paper’s congressional team and his tweeting privileges have been revoked.

“Jonathan Weisman met with [Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet] today and apologized for his recent serious lapses in judgment. As a consequence of his actions, he has been demoted and will no longer be overseeing the team that covers Congress or be active on social media. We don’t typically discuss personnel matters but we’re doing so in this instance with Jonathan’s knowledge,” a Times spokesperson said in a statement…

A spokesperson for The Times said after the incident that Weisman had “repeatedly displayed poor judgement on social media and in responding to criticism.”…

“The people in Washington work so hard,” one reporter for The Times told CNN. “[Weisman’s tweets] just take away from all the hard work people have done.”

Baquet must have put the fear of God into Weisman because he was in full grovel after their meeting:

What were Weisman’s bad tweets? The first, which he’s since deleted, was a reply to this:

Weisman’s response: “Saying Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) are from the Midwest is like saying Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) is from Texas or John Lewis (D-Atlanta) is from the Deep South. C’mon.”

His point, as I took it, was that one can’t fairly cite left-wing politicians from urban districts as being representative of the politics of wider red regions. Doggett (who’s white) represents the liberal enclave of Austin but you wouldn’t say he’s representative of red-leaning Texas writ large. Same for Lewis in his reddish home state of Georgia. Under normal circumstances that point might have been dismissed as banal, but coming so soon after Trump’s “go back where you came from” attack on Omar and Tlaib, it was an outrage to progressives — especially Weisman’s awkward phrasing in questioning whether they’re “from the Midwest.” Of course they’re from the midwest; the issue is whether their left-of-Pelosi politics are typical of the midwest, which they aren’t. That’s what he meant, I think, but suggesting that two Muslim congresswomen aren’t “from the Midwest” was way too close to implying that they’re not “real Americans.” Someone who’s supposed to be on the team shouldn’t be in the same zip code as Trumpish-sounding talking points.

His other bad tweet was downright odd. The full exchange:

What did he mean, replying to Harper that he’d already seen a photo of her before noting that she and Justice Democrats were seeking to oust a black Democrat? Some lefties thought he was accusing Harper of *lying* about being black, that he “was telling a black woman she isn’t black because he looked at a picture and can’t see.” I thought what he was saying was that it was noteworthy that Justice Democrats was trying to primary a black Democratic incumbent irrespective of whether the challenger herself was black. And it is kind of noteworthy: Some black Dems like Lacy Clay didn’t try to hide their anger at Justice Democrats last month when that fracas erupted within the Democratic caucus over AOC’s chief of staff. Progressives eyeing safe blue seats held by black incumbents have become a point of tension within the caucus. Maybe that’s what Weisman was aiming at.

Or maybe he was trying to imply that Harper doesn’t look black? I don’t know. It’s a problem, we should all agree, when a New York Times editor is so bad at making his point on Twitter that he can’t avoid stumbling onto sensitivity landmines repeatedly. And look at it this way: Even if the left is being unfair to him and reading his tweets in the least charitable light, the fact remains that they’re the Times’s core readership. If they’ve decided that he’s a problem for them, then he’s a problem for the Times.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that the left will be acting as the Times’s executive editor going forward, to the extent that it wasn’t already. Even on headlines:

Much of the [Times staff] meeting focused on outrage over a headline last week following multiple mass shootings, including one in El Paso that authorities have said was seemingly motivated by racial hatred. The headline, which proclaimed “Trump Urges Unity Against Racism,” faced criticism both outside and within the paper among those who said the publication was papering over the president’s history of racist comments and how Trump seemed to focus on other issues, including violent video games, more than racism and xenophobia.

“He’s sick. He feels terrible,” Baquet said of the person who wrote the offending headline.

The top editor reiterated that the headline was a mistake—“It was a f***ing mess,” he told the staff—but joined other newsroom leaders in cautioning staff not to overreact to Twitter comments about the paper’s editorial decisions.

Baquet said the paper shouldn’t allow itself to be edited by Twitter outrage.

Ah, that’s exactly what happened here, buddy. The headline was a fair summation of Trump’s message about the El Paso and Dayton shootings in the speech he delivered at the White House. The story that accompanied it provided the context that was missing in the headline about Trump not always being such a unity-minded guy, particularly on race. It’s amusing that liberals would fret that consumers of the New York Times, of all papers, might have their impressions of Trump assume too rosy a hue because of a single headline after the paper has spilled oceans of ink criticizing him. The headline idiocy wasn’t about the headline, it was an act of ideological enforcement at a moment when Trump is on defense. Lefties didn’t want the Times displaying the smallest shred of credulity in covering Trump’s perfunctory “national healing” gestures after the shootings so they made an example of something as innocuous as a headline to show that they meant business. Baquet got the message and bowed to them because, again, he knows who his readers are. Twitter outrage edits the paper now, at least when it comes from their target readership.